Category Archives: Comic Book Movies

Killing Gunther – ★ ★ ★ Review

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This may have been the quirkiest film I’ve seen in quite a while. It wasn’t exactly as advertised, but it paid off in the end.

Gunther is the world’s greatest assassin, so to make a name for themselves, a group of assassins sets out to assassinate him, but their plans turn into a series of bungled encounters as Gunther seems to always be one step ahead.  The story is told as a mockumentary, which wasn’t exactly what I expected, but the format helped to cleverly mask the low budget of the film.

Killing Gunther was funny enough, and there was enough light action to carry the story but it didn’t really get going until Gunther (Schwarzenegger) made his eventual appearance.  This is the value a true star can bring to your film.  He wasn’t wasted, and his performance did elevate that of the entire cast, but it took a bit too long to get to him.  I liked Schwarzenegger in this one because it seemed like he was there to have fun, and just make a fun little film…with assassinations.  Unfortunately the shooting style can turn off some, and the fact that Arnold isn’t seen until the last third of the movie makes the wait a little tedious at times.

Bottom Line:  As long as you don’t go into this thinking it’s a Schwarzenegger film, you should be okay.  Don’t have super high expectations and you can enjoy a quirky little bit of cinema.


Thor Ragnarok – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ Theatrical Review

Baby Driver  

Wow, I haven’t posted anything since February?  Okay, I get it, I’m really behind in my reviews, and I did see Thor in theatres… back in probably December…  It was great!  I loved it.  There was maybe a bit too much humour to it for some, but I still loved it.

Now, there were lots of trailers, and lots of clips, I have to say that Marvel knows how to put those together.  The trailers left me wanting more and put more questions in my mind as to how things got to where they were, even though the trailer pretty much plays out the same order of events as they happen in the film.

Thor returns to Asgard with the helm/skull of Surtur, a fire demon who according to prophecy will bring about Ragnarok, the Asgardian apocalypse.  With Surtur defeated, Thor sets about finding his father Odin, who Loki hypnotized and left on Earth at the end of Thor 2: The Dark World.   At least that’s what I think happened, I can’t honestly remember, as it’s been quite a while since I saw that one.  All I know is that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) took the throne, impersonating Odin (Anthony Hopkins).  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has figured this out, and once he publicly unmasks Loki, the two brothers set off to find their father, making a side trip to the Sanctum Sanctorum where Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) sends Thor and Loki to Odin.  Nice bits of comedy here, and nice to see Doctor Strange, but the scene really just seemed like an extension of the “after the credits scene” from his own movie.  The sons of Odin meet up with Odin in Norway one last time, as he surrenders his life force and moves on, freeing his trapped first born child, Hela, the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) who breaks Thor’s hammer (as we saw in the trailers) and sends he and Loki through space via the Bifrost, where they become trapped on a planet run by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).  Loki arrived several weeks earlier than Thor and has aligned himself with the Grandmaster, leaving  to be captured by a woman known as “Scrapper 142” (Tessa Thompson) to be thrown into the arena to fight for the Grandmaster’s amusement.  Thor’s first opponent is the reigning champion, the incredible… Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).  Fighting and fun, the two heroes eventually bury their differences and escape the planet with Loki and Scrapper 142, who is in fact an Asgardian Valkyrie.  Returning to Asgard to stop Hela who has killed and enslaved much of the population, Thor and his team set out to free their people, but can the Prince of Asgard win without his hammer?

Okay, that was a rather long-winded summary, and I left out a lot of key things.  The story was great fun, and it was full of great comic-book action.  It worked in a lot of great new characters from the comics, and I think it laid some very important groundwork for Avengers Infinity War, and the future of the entire MCU.  The scene after the credits leads directly to the opening scene of Infinity War (I know because I saw it the other day).

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of humour in the film.  I personally loved it, but I can see where some fans of comic book movies might be a little put off by it.  Thor Ragnarok still had some rather serious plot points and undertones, but I think director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Flight of the Conchords) balanced the humour and the darkness masterfully.  I think that is something that Marvel does better than DC does in their movies, and that can be very divisive in the comic book and comic book movie fandoms.  I like my heroes to be powerful and fun, not dark and brooding all the time, but that’s just me.  To each their own.  Check it out, it was fun.

Bottom Line: My favourite Marvel movie was the first Thor for the longest time, but then Doctor Strange came out quickly becoming my favourite, but now….Ragnarok may have put Thor back into first place again….at least until there’s a Doctor Strange 2…

Guardians – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review


At the height of the Cold War the Soviet Union developed a top secret program to give them an edge in what they thought would be the future of war; they were tasked with creating superhumans in Project Patriot.  A scientist involved in the project goes rogue and creates a clone army and tries to take over the world, so it’s up to these superhuman operatives to come together and stop him; they are the Guardians.

The bonus features on the DVD told a lot about this movie.  First, comic books (and comic book superheroes) aren’t big in Russia, so this movie was not trying to compete with the Marvels or the DCs of the world, and they weren’t trying to compete with a $300 million movie, they were just trying to make the best movie they could with the budget they had.  As a superhero movie, it was definitely a B, maybe even a C, but justified by those previous statements, they get an A for effort.  The special effects were quite good, there was a lot of CGI in the film for obvious reasons.  The characters were not fleshed out very well, but the powers they gave them and way they used them were quite interesting.  You had Arsus (Anton Pampushnyy), the were-bear with a mini-gun; Khan (Sanjar Madi) with razor sharp sickles, and he was either really fast or could teleport, it was a bit confusing at times… Kseniya (Alina Lanina) has no memory of how she got her powers of invisibility; and Ler (Sebastien Sisak Grigoryan) who seems to be the elder statesman and leader of the team can control rocks.  The whole project is overseen by Mayor Elena Larina (Valeriya Shkirando).  Quite a few of the command staff of Project Patriot seemed to be sexy Russian women….not necessarily a bad thing.

Arsus looked really cool, and would evolve into different degrees of were-bear-ness….  The mini-gun was a fun touch.  I really liked how they used Ler’s powers over rocks (I suppose that would be geokinesis).  At first he just threw them at people and levitated them, but then he started to attract them to his body, making rock armour, giant rock fists like the Thing from the Fantastic Four.  Loved it, that was super original!  Things like that made up for a few of the flubs they made on the script.  At one point the team is walking across a bridge structure and are being shot at by snipers, why not have your girl turn the team invisible before walking out in the open like that?  They already explained that was in Kseniya’s power-set… I think this is where the lack of exposure to these types of stories hurt their film.

I could see this becoming a minor cult classic because it’s quirky, fun, decently made, and they tried.  I can’t stand it when someone tries to force their film into cult-classic status by purposely making a bad movie.  A great number of cult classics may be bad, but they truly intended to make a good movie.  Guardians was a good movie and a fun watch; not the best, but it wasn’t trying to match up to the best.

Bottom Line:  It may not have been a big time super hero movie, but it did adopt the tradition of an after the credits scene.  I’d certainly watch a sequel if they made one.

Spider-Man Homecoming – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ Theatrical Review

Spider-Man Homecoming

The day after I saw Baby Driver, a friend an I went out and saw Spider-Man Homecoming.  Now, I haven’t seen the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man films in quite a while, but I think this could quite possibly be the Spider-Man movie I needed it to be.  I loved it.

At a science exhibition, nerdy high school student Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, granting him incredible powers. When a burglar killed his Uncle Ben, Peter vowed to use those abilities to protect his fellow man, driven by his uncle’s words: With great power comes great responsibility…. but we all knew that, and fortunately Spider-Man Homecoming knew that we knew that, and didn’t bother wasting any time telling it to us again.  We jump right in with Spider-Man shortly after Captain America 3: Civil War, now back in New York City and being monitored by Tony Stark’s driver/chief of staff, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).  Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is not as hands on as you would think he’d be with the young hero, who he’d given the upgraded costume we saw in Civil War he actually kind of ignores him.  This could be because he has seen how dangerous the super-hero life can be first hand, most recently when his best friend Rhodey was seriously injured in Civil War.  He encourages Peter to leave the big and dangerous missions to more experienced heroes, to be a “friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man”.  But when street level thugs start using high-tech weaponry (possibly not of this earth) in his neighbourhood, and Iron Man doesn’t take his calls, Spider-Man has to take action for himself.  Eventually though he gets in over his head and makes a error in judgment that could have killed a lot of innocent people, which forces Stark to take back the suit.  Now limited to his original homemade suit and web-shooters, Spider-Man readies himself for a final showdown with the Vulture.

Can I say that it was “amazing”?  This is Spider-Man in the MCU, and it was amazing.  I loved it, so I’m just going to point out a lot of the things that made me love it:

I loved that they chose to set Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in high-school which gave the film’s title a double meaning.  It was the homecoming dance where Peter has his climactic encounter with the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and the character came “home” to Marvel Studios from Sony Pictures.

I loved the cast of characters that they used in the film and that they somewhat re-imagined.  There was no Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane Watson though Michelle (Zendaya) reveals at the end of the movie that her “friends call her MJ….  Now, let’s be clear, Michelle is NOT Mary Jane, but the character was great, funny, sarcastic, and smart; so she could be a great alternative to the comic book (and movie) MJ as Peter’s new love interest.

It was very “John Hughes-like” in the way it treated the high school aspects of the film and the high school characters.  Homecoming is really just a big  coming-of-age tale (albeit one with superheroes and villains), and Hughes told those better than anyone.

Tom Holland got Peter Parker completely right.  He wasn’t a socially awkward skateboarder who twitched and couldn’t make eye contact, he was shy, and nervous, and he was a nerd (his bedroom was full of Star Wars toys and he and his best friend were planning on putting together the LEGO Death Star!).  He was smart, but he was the underdog, and we loved him for it.  This was an “everyman” Peter Parker I could relate to.

We got a great new rendition of the Spider-Man costume, complete with resizable eyes and the web wings in the armpits!  The eyes were great and gave all the expressiveness that is hard to relate when your character’s face is completely covered by a mask (just like Deadpool’s eyes/mask did in his movie).  We also didn’t have to have the mask coming off all the time to show the character’s expressions.

When they show the Marvel Studios logo at the opening of the film, we get an orchestral version of the Spider-Man cartoon theme song.  That theme song did make an “appearance” in Spider-Man 2 when Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker gave up being Spider-Man for a time and a busker is playing the song in a subway station.

Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) wasn’t a jock, he was on the quiz team, but was the smug rich kid and still a bully.

Ned (Jacob Batalon) was a great “partner” for Spider-Man and a great friend for Peter.  Now, I can’t remember if they said his name was Ned Leeds or not, but that would be very interesting if it was.  Ned Leeds in the comics was one of several men who took the guise of the Hobgoblin, one of Spider-Man’s deadliest enemies.  Ned Leeds also married Betty Brant who was J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary in the comics (and previous films).  Brant was also in Homecoming as a student news presenter.

The wit was back.  It was nice to see a wisecracking, funny Spider-Man like he was pulled from the comic books.

In the comics, or at least the old ones that I used to read, Spider-Man talked to himself a lot, or at least thought to himself a lot.  He’d ask himself questions, get angry at himself, lament his terrible luck, and we were there for the ride, but that’s kind of hard to do in a movie.  You can’t really see a character’s thoughts, and soliloquies haven’t really been that popular since the days of Shakespeare, so fortunately we had Karen, the Spider suit’s AI (voiced by Jennifer Connelly) for Spidey to talk to.

Peter struggles to balance his double life, and we see once again how important that is to him.

Michael Keaton was great as Adrian Toomes, the Vulture was an excellent choice for the film, and they way they power him up makes sense.  Of course it’s great that Keaton was also just in Birdman where he played an actor who had previously played a superhero on screen….and that he also actually used to play another superhero on screen….(he was Batman!)

We also got two versions of the Shocker (Logan Marshall-Green then Bokeem Woodbine) and the Tinkerer (Michael Chernus) in the film, plus a pre Scorpion Mac Gargan (Michael Mando), hints at the Prowler (Donald Glover), and possibly Miles Morales…

Other great nods to the comics were there too, but the most obvious and my favourite was when Peter was trapped under the rubble of the building while fighting the Vulture and though on the verge of giving up, after crying out for help, how when he sees his mask half in the water and the reflection of his own face in the water, (giving the classic half and half Spider-Man shot) he summons up the strength of character and the physical strength to free himself to continue on, just like the scene in Amazing Spider-Man #33. Panel 1  Panel 2  Panel 3 .

Stan Lee of course has a cameo, and it was pretty good.

I loved the Captain America cameos too, as we see Cap via videotape passing on PSAs to the students of Midtown High in gym class and in detention.

There were two after the credits scenes, the first one is serious and involves some villains coming part way through the credits, and the other is for humour only, and comes at the very end of the film.  I’m glad I had the patience to stick around for that one!

A great story all around, and it captured the heart of one of my favourite superheroes of all time.  I love Doctor Strange, but Spider-Man was probably one of the first superheroes I was ever introduced to, so to see it done right makes my day.

Bottom Line: There was one joke in the movie that made me laugh for a long time.

Stark: You screwed the pooch, but then you did the right thing and took the pooch to the clinic and raised the hybrid puppies … Admittedly not my best analogy.

The part about the hybrid puppies is still making me laugh.

Wonder Woman – ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrical Review

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So if you’re a Marvel fanboy (or fangirl) you’re not allowed to like DC stuff right?  And vice-versa?  This is the law that was handed down, right?  So if you can only like one comic book company’s movies, and I just enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, how is it even possible that I really enjoyed Wonder Woman?  Because, I really did enjoy Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman was my second trip to the theatre in less than a week, and this time there were more than just two of us in the theatre.  I think it was the second weekend possibly?  A good friend is a big fan of Wonder Woman, and since the release pretty much coincided with her birthday, the outing was made.

Now, I haven’t seen Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I haven’t seen Suicide Squad, and I haven’t even seen the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.  I did watch the Wonder Woman TV series from the ’70s though and did enjoy them.  As well, I think I had only seen one trailer for Wonder Woman beforehand, so I was going into the movie with very little advanced knowledge, and really no expectations.  Obviously I know who Wonder Woman is, and I know what the character’s powers are, but I don’t know really anything about her introduction to the DCEU.  I do know that you don’t usually hear a lot of good things about the films of the DCEU.  Also, why are the DC movies called the DC Extended Universe and the Marvel movies called the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Wonder Woman was the origin story for the character that fans didn’t get when she was introduced in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it wasn’t really burdened down by that.  From what I’ve heard, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the highlight of that film, and this followup was greatly anticipated.   Raised on the island of Themyscira as an Amazon princess, Diana is the daughter of Hippolyta (Connie Nelson) and Zeus who brought the clay statue of a daughter that Queen Hippolyta made to life.  Remember, this is an island of all women, so reproduction is a bit of a tricky subject…  Their island is hidden from the outside world (i.e. the world of man), but Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American airman crashes through their protective shield as he is chased by a German squadron at the height of World War I bringing the realities of the outside world with him.  Convinced that Ares, the God of War is behind this “war to end all wars”, Diana leaves her home with Trevor to fight alongside man, and embrace her destiny by defeating Ares and ending the threat.

As I said, I really enjoyed this film.  It had a lot of fun moments in it, lots of action, some great characters and it wasn’t slow or brooding.  There was a nice mix of humour, as we did get a little bit of a “fish out of water” story when Diana encounters our modern world for the first times.  Trying on clothes suitable for a woman in 1917, trying ice cream for the first time, walking down London streets with a sword and shield, all served to lighten the mood enough to make us love the character.  When haven’t we all felt like a fish out of water?  Once Diana and Trevor make it to the front lines, the action steps up but so does the heart of the movie.  It’s funny when you get emotionally involved with a movie that portrays recorded history.  We know that the Germans lose and the Allies win WWI, but seeing Diana emerge from the trench and attack the Germans in that No Man’s Land sequence was epic.  I had goosebumps.  Incredibly scripted, incredibly acted, and incredibly shot.  That scene, and the celebration afterwards was the entire film (and character) in a nutshell.  I like to think I’m an intelligent film watcher, and sometimes that comes back to haunt me.  I have seen far too many movies where I’ve correctly predicted a cheesy line or outcome due to what I think is obvious foreshadowing.  In the movie Diana is unfamiliar with trench warfare and is shocked when it is explained to her that they’ve been fighting there for months and have possibly only advanced a few feet further into No Man’s Land.  I fully expected an “I’m no man” line to come before Diana charged into the battle, and I even mentioned this to The Girl Who Whispered.  I was very glad that I was wrong and that it didn’t happen.  Kudos to director Patty Jenkins for not having that in her film!  Also, I may be mistaken but I don’t actually remember anyone calling her “Wonder Woman” in the film, just Diana.

At the end of the film I was pleasantly entertained by everyone connected to it.  Gal Gadot seems born to play Wonder Woman, and handled all aspects of the character well, from the naive and curious princess to the intelligent and confidant military commander.  Chris Pine is proving to be quite a good actor and has not been pigeon holed into a single role after playing Captain Kirk in the three rebooted Star Trek films.  Patty Jenkins did an excellent job directing the film.  I’ve heard people say the Zack Snyder directed films have been a bit of a tonal mess at times, and that the films are poorly lit and devoid of colour.  Wonder Woman was not a mess, was not dark, and in fact I thought it used colour and lighting quite well.

Patty Jenkins was the first woman to direct a major super hero film, and I’m a little surprised that she got the opportunity because she doesn’t appear to have directed that much.  I haven’t seen Monster, but it did win Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar, beyond that she has only directed a handful of episodes for various TV series and a few short films.  Directing someone to a Leading Actress Oscar is always an accomplishment, but to do it in your first film is really something so no one should be surprised that Jenkins is a talented director. I’m a little surprised though that DC chose someone with so few feature films to their credit to direct a very important piece of the DCEU.  I suppose that really doesn’t matter now, because the film has become a great financial success, and a great critical success as well.  Maybe part of DC’s problem in the past was choosing directors who weren’t fresh and were stuck in their ways?  Who knows.  I’m glad this film did well and that it all worked out for everyone involved.  To touch on my opening point about only following one company’s films, shouldn’t we as the fans of these films and as the audience want all comic book movies to do well?  The better everyone’s movies are, the more comic book movies we’ll get the opportunity to enjoy.

Bottom Line: The Marvel fanboy in me would be remiss if I didn’t mention the many similarities between Wonder Woman and Captain America: The First Avenger…  Both used shields a lot, both were set in World Wars.  Both heroes have idealistic reasons for wanting to fight in their respective wars, but have superiors who want to keep them away form the combat.  Both had mentors characters, both have love interests that are already involved in the wars, and both get a team of supporting characters (Howling Commandos and Diana’s own band of multicultural comrades). And SPOILER: At the end of the film, a heroic character named Steve (portrayed by an actor named Chris), sacrifices himself by destroying a plane that was about to destroy a major Allied city. 😉

Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2 – ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrical Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 240

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the most anticipated Marvel movie of the year…until the next one was teased.  The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was a huge and unexpected success.  Those sorts of films are hard to follow up on, and the pressure to recapture lightning in a bottle is incredible, fortunately James Gunn was up to the task.

Our band of spacefaring misfits are at it again, now they’re charged by the Nova Corps to safeguard the universe…. or to guard the galaxy.  This time though, we get some more backstory to the characters, and a few of the mysteries from “Vol. 1” are answered.  Learn! how Star Lord, a seemingly ordinary human was able to handle an infinity stone!  See! the development of a recently resurrected Floral Colossus!  Discover! the secret of Peter’s father!  Watch! as Taserface hunts down the Guardians for the Sovereign!  Shudder! as there could be a traitor in the ranks of the Guardians!  Cry! as certain key characters actually don’t survive the movie!  Laugh! at the excellent banter between the Guardians!  Be amazed! Be amused! Be entertained!  Because that’s what the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is really all about.

I managed to make it out to the theatre with my brother to see Guardians Volume 2, and we were the only two people there.  Granted, we did go rather late into the run, and we went to the late show on a Sunday night.  The nice thing about being the only two people in the entire theatre was that we could talk about the film freely without upsetting anyone.  Of course we did switch off our cell phones, we’re not animals.  We didn’t actually talk that much, but it was nice to be able to say “wow” or ask what something was, or comment or predict/guess something without getting nasty looks.

Guardians Volume 2 was a wacky, funny, action packed, fun, popcorn flick.  And I liked it just fine that way.  New characters were introduced, new ideas, and new locations in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The banter and humour was constant and well done once again.  The special effects were excellent, and everything seemed to have been amped up to at least equal the first film.  All the main characters delivered exactly what I expected, and I even managed to enjoy Karen Gillan this time around, something that didn’t really happen last time.  Michael Rooker’s Yondu got an expanded role in the sequel, and it was quickly rewarded with an excellent, almost standout, performance.  There may have been a few too many characters, and sadly, once a movie or a franchise becomes popular, all sorts of “big name” actors come out of the woodwork and are thrust into roles they might not normally take.  I enjoyed Pom Klementieff as Mantis, and Kurt Russell was really good as Ego, Peter Quill’s father, but I thought that Sylvester Stallone was just kind of thrust in there, with little explanation.  Apparently his character is supposed to be big in future movies, but I, a rather big comic book nerd, had no idea who he was, or why I should care about him, or even agree with Stallone being cast.  All that aside, you can tell James Gunn really enjoys his job, the characters and everything about the Guardians of the Galaxy, and ultimately so did I.

Bottom Line: Even though it’s one of the better selling soundtracks in recent years, I think I like “Awesome Mix-tape Vol. 1” better than Volume 2.  Sure Mr. Blue Sky by E.L.O. was nice, The Chain by Fleetwood Mac was great, and I loved George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord and Come A Little Bit Closer by Jay and the Americans is one of my all-time favourite songs, but the rest of the arrangement didn’t wow me as much.  Ah well, still a really good soundtrack.

Logan – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ Theatrical Review


Be warned.  There will be spoilers in this review.  I think it’s the only way I can talk about what I feel about Logan.

It’s common knowledge that Hugh Jackman (who will be 49 years old this year) has said he would be “hanging up the claws”, putting an end to his portrayal of the character known as Logan, James Howlett or Wolverine that he has played nine times since 2000.  Patrick Stewart has also announced that Logan would be the last time he would portray Charles Xavier or Professor X as he’s also been playing the character since 2000.  With that knowledge and with a few hints from the trailers, you can guess what will happen to the characters.  Logan gives us an aged, weakened, sick, and non-healing Logan, not the Wolverine who could recover from beatings and attacks in moments, and whose ferocity allowed him to dominate in fights.  When he is presented with a young mutant child who has similar powers and claws to his own, he and the very old and ailing Xavier have to try and get her safely to the Canadian border while being chased by the same people whose experiments created the girl.

Watching the movie, I fully expected Logan to die at the end, and watching the trailers I fully expected Xavier to die too (as he states in one of the trailers, he is F-ing 90!) but there were things that made me doubt this and that’s what makes for good storytelling in my mind.  I went in fully prepared for something but there were enough hints dropped along the way that made me doubt, or made me hope that something else could happen.  I suppose I like to think of myself as a “smart” comic book fan.  I like to think that I’m fairly knowledgeable in the history of the characters and things like that.  I also think I’m pretty “movie smart”, as I’ve seen a lot of movies over the years and it takes something pretty substantial to surprise me, the fact that Logan did surprise me at several turns was something special and added to my enjoyment of the film.

When the bad guys gave their X-24 experiment a serum to heal faster, my heart jumped.  If Logan got some of this would it cure him of the adamantium poisoning?  Would he heal like he used to? Would he be the Wolverine again?  Could this mean that Logan wouldn’t die and I was wrong about my “predictions”?  Would he lead the mutant children to Canada and lead the next generation of X-Men?  In the comics he did lead the school after one of Professor X’s many deaths, so it was plausible. Also: could there be enough of the juice left in him that he’s not really dead, but will just take a long time to heal?

I saw the film in theatres with some friends.  After an enjoyable dinner and some excellent conversation, we were off to the show.  Logan was a lot of “wish fulfillment” for me.  This movie was really made for the fans and my friends and I looked at each other in surprise after many of  the “wow” moments.  Everything you wanted to see in the other X-Men movies you got in the R-Rated Logan.  There were violent, violent fights and deaths.  The claws were popped (by both Logan and Laura a.k.a. X-23) in gruesome and creative ways; ways that hadn’t seen on film but had only been imagined.  Bad guys got claws through the head, through the eyes, through the throat, through the gut.  Arms were cut off, legs were removed, hands, heads, you name it, there was comic book evisceration like never before.  If you were excited by Wolverine’s attacks in X-Men 2 or in The Wolverine, they dial the intensity right up in Logan. The only thing we didn’t get in Logan was Hugh Jackman ever actually wearing a Wolverine costume.  While I guess it isn’t necessary, it would have been kind of cool to see the costume that was teased at the end of The Wolverine (though only in an “alternate ending”) even if it had only been in a brief flashback.

They also dial up the language throughout the film.  We had a few “f-bombs” in the red band trailers (and even a few in the trailers before the film (more on that below)), so it wasn’t really a surprise that the language was also quite “colourful” in the film.  I think that “The Girl Who Whispered” was a little surprised by that but for the most part I think that the language used did fit the tone of the film and the situations.  That being said, it could have been toned down a bit and the desired mood would still have been achieved.  I usually think that if you always need to use swearing to convey the emotions of your story, you should work on your storytelling, but Logan didn’t really use the language that way.  At one point Logan and Laura (Dafne Keen) are stuck on the side of the road with a broken truck and Logan swears and shouts and beats up the truck.  To me that’s very real, and something that we can all relate to.  Okay, maybe we can’t relate to being mutants with unbreakable bones who are being chased by Reavers (cyborg mutant hunters), but we can probably relate to having a car or computer or battery or some other piece of technology give out on you when you most needed it…

Both Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman gave excellent performances, and there has been talk about both being nominated for Oscars, as well as the film itself.  I think that it may be a bit early for Oscar talk, but you never know.  Clearly both actors really do love the characters they play and you can see that in their performances.  Strong, emotional, heroic, and touching; they wanted to send the fans home with a lasting memory.

So, a few other things you may want to know about Logan: wisely it was set in the future, so there is the possibility (and high probability) that Wolverine will be able to appear in future X-Men (or dare we dream MCU) films.  There was no Stan Lee cameo in the film, but in several versions of the Deadpool 2 Teaser Trailer that aired before the feature there is.  For some reason the theatre I went to didn’t air that version of the trailer, apparently there are two, one with Stan and one without, and I believe they each have different music for some reason (though both have the John Williams Superman theme for obvious reasons).  Lastly there was no “after the credits” scene in Logan so if you have a full bladder you don’t have to wait around.

Bottom Line: Loved it.  I hear that they’re making a black and white version of the film as a special feature for the Blu Ray release, which I think would be pretty cool.  Black and white seems to intensify everything.  I seem to remember seeing one of the first trailers being released in black and white with the Johnny Cash song in it….but I could also be imagining that now that I’ve heard this.

Captain America 3: Civil War – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Captain America 3: Civil War4.5 Stars

This might as well have been Avengers 3, because it had everyone in it.  Steve Rogers’ Captain America (Chris Evans) battles Tony Stark’s Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) as the heroes pick sides after the fallout of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron and the events of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier collide.  They may have saved the world (from a menace they had a hand in creating), but many innocent lives were lost.  The governments of the world and the United Nations now want to keep the Avengers in check and hold them accountable.  Cap’s WWII friend Bucky (who had been brainwashed into becoming the cold war assassin the Winter Soldier) has been framed for a new crime by Zemo (Daniel Brühl) and the two teams of Avengers set out to find him.  Captain America’s team (Falcon, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man) are trying to save Bucky, while Iron Man’s team (Black Widow, War Machine, Black Panther, Vision and Spider-Man) try to bring Bucky to justice.

The film may have been a bit of fan pandering, but it was still well constructed and entertaining to me.  We got the introduction of a few new key characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther will soon have his own film, as will Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.  Both are important additions to the ever growing MCU, and I like the potential directions that both characters/films/franchises could take.  I will admit that I’m super excited for a “proper” Marvel Spider-Man film.  What I like about the Marvel films (the proper Disney Marvel films that is) is that they really do know how to pace and lay out a story.  The first act of Civil War was the build-up and the increasing tensions between the team, as well as the hunt and mystery over the Winter Soldier.  The second act was the big battle scene that brought all the characters together and the third act resolved it all, with Captain America and Iron Man temporarily setting aside their differences to fight the common enemy that had been pulling their strings for most of the movie.  Essentially the first act was character driven, the second action and then it circled back to a character driven story again.  All of it worked, and balanced the action with drama and humour.  I have heard some people say there was too much humour, but I disagree.  When you’re dealing with gods and monsters and knights and soldiers and heroes, all fantastical things, I prefer to keep it lighter.  I also think there was more than enough action to keep the story flowing so that I didn’t mind or really realize that it was two and a half hours long.

I really enjoyed all the characters.  With a pool of characters as deep as those in the MCU, you like to see the filmmakers play with “all the toys”, or at least all the toys that they’re allowed to use.  It’s really nice to see Spider-Man back where he belongs, alongside the biggest Marvel characters.  There’s no subtlety lost in naming the upcoming film Spider-Man Homecoming.  Getting a small taste of Spider-Man in the big airport fight scene was a treat that many Marvel fans didn’t think they’d ever get, what with the complicated stories behind which studios have the rights to which characters.  That whole airport scene was a lot of fun, even if it did condense a whole “superhero civil war” down to about fifteen minutes.

There were of course comparisons between Civil War and the other big super hero film of the year, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  I haven’t seen BvS yet, so I can’t judge it.  I know critics didn’t like it, and I know there is a HUGE divide among the fans both on that film in particular and on the differences between the Marvel and DC film universes.  Apparently it’s become a rule that Marvel fans can’t like DC films or vice versa.  I read quite a few user reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes where it seemed like DC fans were just bashing Marvel films (and fans) while the Marvel fans seemed pretty even tempered, though to be fair, I was just checking a Marvel film, so they would tend to be kinder on those pages.  It’s entirely possible on pages for DC films that Marvel fans are bashing those too.  I guess I can’t help but wonder why the two fandoms can’t just get along?  It seems like there are a lot of negative reviews out there just for the sake of negatively reviewing something!  I like reviews to be constructive and helpful.  If you liked previous Marvel films, I think you’ll most likely enjoy Captain America 3: Civil War.  Is it better than DC, and everything Batman v Superman wasn’t?  I don’t know, that’s not something I can say without having seen both films, that would be up to you to decide if you have watched them both.

Bottom Line: This was one of the few MCU films I missed seeing in theatres.  I think the only other one was Iron Man 3….

Doctor Strange – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrical Review

doctor-strange-poster5.0 Stars

Thank you.  Marvel did it again, and they continue to do it right.  As Doctor Strange is my favourite comic book character (I love magic, sorcery and a good redemption storyline) I was very nervous and unsure what we were going to get when Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) joined the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).  Strange is not the most popular or well known character in comicdom, what are his powers?  What does he do?  Where did he come from?  All questions that need to be answered in an origin tale, and that is what this movie was.  This was Doctor Strange at the end of his surgical life and the beginning of his life with the mystic arts, and long before he would become the Sorcerer Supreme.

The brilliant but arrogant surgeon loses the use of his hands in a car accident as he’s discussing new cases to undertake, one of which was for a paralyzed military colonel who was injured while wearing an exo-suit of armour.  To me this was an obvious reference to James Rhodes/War Machine’s injuries in Captain America Civil War and it has been hinted that the “woman with schizophrenia with an an electronic implant in her brain struck by lightning” is somehow related to the upcoming Captain Marvel movie starring Brie Larson.  At the end of the film’s credits we are reminded to not drive distractedly, and are also treated to two post credit bonus scenes.  Well, one mid credits which was more humourous and one post that was of a more serious nature.  Seeking help to repair the nerve damage to his hands, he spends his last dollar to travel to  Kathmandu, Nepal seeking out Kamar-Taj and the fabled “Ancient One” (Tilda Swinton) who leads him into the mystical world.  Strange is tutored by Kamar-Taj masters Morodo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Wong (Benedict Wong) and together they band together to protect the world from the sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his zealots who had stolen a forbidden ritual from the Kamar-Taj library and now seek to use it to gain the power and immortality promised by the lord of the Dark Dimension, the Dread Dormammu.

The film as I said was pretty much everything I wanted it to be.  It was true to the character, and showed the change Stephen Strange made in his life.  Strange adjusts to the world, and finally accepts that everything isn’t about him.  That’s not something that a Tony Stark could do.  Stark will always think things are about him, Strange realizes it isn’t.  Stark will change the world to make it better, while Strange changes himself to make the world better.  Doctor Strange was more humorous than I expected.  When I heard that Scott Derrickson, a noted horror film director was at the helm of the film, I definitely didn’t expect much humour.  I was kind of expecting scary monsters and demons popping out from around every corner, and I’m glad that didn’t happen.  Instead we got a Cloak of Levitation that had some hints of personality and possibly consciousness?  The film balanced the humour with a tremendous amount of character, and incredible effects.  There were scenes in the film that looked just like some of the surrealistic extra-dimensional Ditko panels from the original 1960s comic pages.  Brilliantly rendered and I will say that this was a film that really used the 3D to its fullest advantage.  Most times I pass on 3D, thinking it doesn’t really add to the experience, but I am actually very glad that I saw it in 3D.  I will likely see the film again, and for budgetary reasons may opt for the 2D way, so it will be interesting to compare the experience.

As I said, Doctor Strange is not the best known character, but I enjoyed how Marvel drew in supporting characters from the comics for the true fans.  Nicodemus West is an important character in the 2007 Doctor Strange The Oath story written by Brian K. Vaughan, and there were several scenes in the film that were lifted directly from it.  There may a bit too much reliance on The Oath, but it is kind of understandable, the filmmakers did want to draw in new and old fans alike, and the book was very popular and is still readily accessible, unlike some older stories like Into Shamballa from 1986.  Rachel McAdams plays a former love interest of Stephen Strange, and fellow surgeon who is similar to the Night Nurse character, but reportedly not as Night Nurse is being played by Rosario Dawson in the Daredevil and Luke Cage TV series.  Benedict Wong as Wong showed a nice touch of comic relief at times, but also was a wonderful mentor character for Strange in addition to the Ancient One.  The Ancient One herself is an interesting discussion.  Much was made of the whitewashing of the character.  Originally the character was an Asian male, now we have a Celtic female for the Ancient One.  I really liked the interpretation and loved Tilda Swinton’s performance.  A lot less of the rumbling about this issue has been heard since the film has released, and even the actress herself said that everyone should just wait and see the film before criticizing the decision.  People were far less quick to judge the decision to cast black Chiwetel Ejiofor in the part of Mordo who was always white in the comics.  For the record, I think he did an incredible job too.  Benedict Cumberbatch is a great actor, and he took the role seriously.  I think he was perfect and developed a very real character, and showed the fall and the rise of a changing person as he embraced his role as Stephen Strange surgeon, the fallen Stephen Strange, the mystic student Stephen Strange, and as Doctor Strange.  I think that on the whole, Doctor Strange proves that by casting strong actors you don’t just have another comic book movie but you can elevate perception of the film have simply an excellent movie with comic book stuff added to it.

The hero of any movie is only as good as the villain, and to be truly invested in any antagonist you have to appreciate their point of view.  The best villains are the ones who don’t realize that they’re even a villain.  In Doctor Strange, you have Kaecilius has a strong point of view that he believes in.  This puts him obviously at odds with the Ancient One and her students including  Mordo who also has strong beliefs to counter those of Kaecilius.  Mads Mikkelsen was a legitimately dangerous villain, even though he turned out not to be the ultimate big bad guy.  Dormammu I thought was really well done and I learned after the film that Cumberbatch did the motion capture for Dormammu.  The thoughts behind the realization of the character were that this godlike being did not really need a true physical form, and though it wasn’t obvious that it was Cumberbatch’s face on the Dread One, you could see some similarities which lends to the idea that Strange was fighting himself.  The climax of the film to me was a believable way to defeat Dormammu.  You have to trick a cosmic godlike being, and the way the film handled it really emphasized the change in Strange, the selflessness, the sacrifice, the oath to save lives, and the willingness to think and use magic creatively unlike Mordo, which was another key point of the story.

I really loved it and I can’t wait to see it again.

Bottom Line:  There will be a sequel.  We know this from the second post credit scene, if I were Marvel, I’d name the second film Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts, and since Marvel movies seem to come in threes, I’d name the third film Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme.  Show his progress through the series of films, but that’s just me.

Doctor Strange: A Primer

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